Keiko Online

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World of Keiko 2018-08-20

Hello! It has been quite some time since I last posted anything. Those that follow my social networking will no doubt have some idea of what I’ve been up to. For the people that don’t, I’ll post a quick overview and move from there.

I haven’t done much reading or writing of late. I stopped playing Final Fantasy XIV and started playing Elder Scrolls Online instead. I got sucked back into social networking but am trying to cut back again. The garden that I started earlier this year consists of several garden beds now. I am still horribly unfit, which has likely contributed to my recent bout of the flu kicking my butt for longer than it should have. I think that sums it up as succinctly as possible.

Whilst I haven’t done much reading and writing, I’ve found renewed vigour after starting ESO. The story-rich world of Tamriel is one that I am sad that I didn’t play months sooner. Much in all as I enjoyed FFXIV, it still lacked the level of depth and community that works for me. Recently, I also tried my hand at running a few events for one of my guilds. I would have done so again this past weekend if not for the flu. In any case, I am really enjoying the game and am also making some progress fleshing out one of my story worlds.
Which comes to the world of Lurra. Lurra is a fantasy world that is the product of one of my old freewrites. Whilst the initial story has been scrapped, it spawned a vibrant, living world with its share of political intrigue and romance. I also got to create some interesting cultures, religions, etc… It is by no means fleshed out enough to start working on, but I have the core characters for the first series now fleshed out. I just need to get the plot laid out ahead of filling in the gaps. After all, those fine details can either make or break a story. Anyway, I will try to post updates about it again soon.

In lieu of my interest in gardening and a desire to improve my health, I started working on my first real garden beginning in mid-March. I set up a compost, got a worm farm for my birthday <3, saved seeds, bought seeds, planted, grew, prepared beds and other things in order to encourage myself to get outside more. I also expanded my knowledge by watching lots of videos (some of which were college material uploaded to YT) and read lots of articles in order to make informed decisions. I have easily spent more than a hundred hours learning about this stuff. That being said, there was some redundancy in these materials.
Alas, winter came along, delaying much of my efforts. Due to the decreased rainfall and temperatures, I also noticed lots of insects and other wildlife (I’m looking at you, Joe the Bush Turkey!), scrounging for food sources. Seeds were taken and beds were dug up, leading to some frustration on my part. However, I was forced to adapt. Whilst I don’t have a perfect system, I now have ways to deal with these annoyances. Problem-solving is an important part of this little adventure and I’ve received quite a bit of help from some friends living across the road.
Whilst I don’t get as much physical activity as I would like, I have placed garbage bins in the front yard rather than the back of the house. Why is this relevant? It encourages me to check my plants whenever I put stuff in the bins. This method was a result of learning BJ Fogg’s TinyHabits method. It is a simple idea but it makes sense. Just take one action that you’d like to create into a larger habit and attach it onto another. Simple, but it works.

So, what is my plan for the blog in future? Given how little I’ve been posting of late, I’ve decided to knock down the schedule a bit and build up as feasible. I doubt I will post as regularly as I used to. However, I am hoping that it will be more manageable and provide higher quality, more entertaining posts.

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World of Keiko 03/06/2017

Last week began in a strong fashion. I was writing more and playing BDO more. Unfortunately, I hit a wall. I had reached a point where I was physically exhausted from not getting near enough quality sleep. That resulted in several days away from blogging, during which I was able to start changing my sleeping cycle around. So, the idea from now on is to get up early in the morning rather than getting up after nine or ten o’clock. My body is still adjusting to the new sleeping schedule but I think that it will do me a lot of good in the long-term.
I don’t have much to say on the writing front but I will try to return to the semblance of a writing and blogging schedule. To my older followers, thank-you for your patience. I do appreciate it. And to my newer readers, I’d like to offer a rather flamboyant greeting probably involving balloons and streamers and perhaps even dancing Pokemon because that is the way that I roll. Admit it, you like the Pikachus too. 😀

Well, that is it for this week. A big shoutout to new followers LitaKino (youtube) and George Pheby, a music blogger. I hope that you all have a kick-ass week and I look forward to chatting with you in the near future. I leave you guys with this video clip by Strange Talk.


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World of Keiko 02/19/2016

Hey there, guys. Another lengthy delay since the last post. Some stuff has happened, making use of my computer difficult. Apart from some small amount of study, as well as learning about craft and watching TV, most of my time recently has been spent dealing with computer issues.

COMPUTERS
The last few weeks have been pretty hectic due to both of our computers crapping themselves. Hubby’s machine had been dying since a major storm a few months ago, but the power supply finally gave up the ghost. He used a 450W to cover him for a week or so while a sizable order came in. He’d pretty much decided that given his numerous issues with hard drives and whatnot that it was time for a computer replacement. He asked if I wanted a new computer as well, and given the performance of my own clunker, I informed him that I wanted a new one as well. It was just as well that I did because a few days later my own computer had issues of its own. I had installed a Windows 10 update that caused a PCIE conflict with the SSD that I had the operating system on catching a BSOD watchdog error. Some further diagnosis indicated that we were unable to download relevant drivers for the drive to potentially sort the issue due to incompatibility with the older motherboard (at least seven years old). He ended up removing my old games drive as well because it was apparent that it had been on its way out for the past month, and installed Windows 7 on another hard drive until the parts arrived.
The parts arrived after some major annoyances with the folks that we had purchased them from. The told us some parts weren’t available and at least one of the motherboards that we’d ordered was unavailable because the second one sitting in their warehouse was damaged. We changed the order to incorporate a different motherboard and told them to send the second motherboard separately when their new stock arrived. Problem is that in spite of our request for them to send the main order right away, they didn’t, instead sending the motherboard first. We’d prompted them on numerous times to just send the damn order. Finally, we had a sales rep put us through to the warehouse to put a fire up their ass. The chap on that end had no clue about our order apparently (this is actually quite likely given the sending of the motherboard earlier), and sorted it that same day, refunding our postage on the order for the annoyance. We had pointed out that we have spend tens of thousands of dollars with them over the years for various builds for ourselves and friends, and he didn’t want to lose our business for an avoidable cock-up. We still aren’t happy, but we at least have our machines rebuilt now.
The builds made use of only a few old parts. Hubby’s build went smoothly until he tried to turn on the machine and it immediately shut down for some reason. He went to bed at 6 AM feeling devastated, but managed to sort the problem. The issue remains a mystery, but the computer is at least working now. I am now using hubby’s old CPU watercooling system, a new thing for me. It was a pain in the ass installing it onto my old tower as there were some clearance issues on the top backside of the case. That took several hours to sort. My own build took the longest due to that CPU cooler, and we had to do a run over to Sarina to get some thermal gel. [For those that are unaware, thermal gel in this context is a gel that acts as a barrier between the CPU and cooling to avoid the CPU from overheating. It is essential if you want your computer to work. New coolers usually comes with a small amount for your install. Don’t put on too much though or it will squish onto your motherboard and kill it. There are several companies that sell tubes of the stuff separately, some of which are performance gels that make your machine run slightly cooler than less expensive products. We got a run of the mill gel that is good enough for what we need it for.]
We then went about checking integrity of hard drives, trying to save (unsuccessfully) drives with issues and transferring files onto stable swap disks. Bad drives, of which there are at least three (hubby lost 2 and I lost my games drive, with my old 750 Barracuda to be dumped soon as well even though it still works as its been slowing down over the last year or so) have been put on a pile, though I am unsure of what hubby intends to do with my old SSD, though I suspect that it will be added to the pile given that it can no longer be used due to the Windows 10 conflict. We intend on getting new drives over the next few months (budget restraints, hence the wait), and will be building a spare computer on top of our own to cover us if one of ours packs it in again. This computer will be hooked up to the TV and will be used to stream from our computers. It looks like we will be using hubby’s old motherboard and will make use of my old clunker of a cooling rig.
As for my Windows install, that ran okay, but the following day a watermark on the screen saying that it was not activated caused a pain for me. I was feeling put out by the experience as their recent update had created the issue with my old SSD leading to the new build. I searched online for solutions for dealing with my OEM re-install. After several hours, I felt crappy because it appeared that I would need to wait on a phone for an extended period of time. Then I noticed an article talking about the Windows “Contact Support” app. With hubby’s prompting, I gave it a shot. I was in a one-on-one chat with a Ma.Leah, a cool lady that sorted my issue using remote access. This was my first experience with remote access, and I was initially concerned after hearing a horror story about one of hubby’s former workmates having his computer screwed over by a chap working for Telstra. She dealt with my problem within 30 minutes, the task made longer because of time spent waiting for clarification and typing to each other. Her assistance made a previously crappy day awesome, restoring my faith in humanity.
I am slowly reinstalling games and other software, though I am guessing that it might take some time to get back to normal. Its been stressful, there’s no doubt, but it also brought to light how much I rely upon my computer. I have considering ways of dealing with this reliance upon my desktop in particular, and I am seriously considering getting a laptop with touchscreen sometime in the not-so-distant future.

CRAFT
I have trying to get into craft and sewing over the past few month. I have been spending much of the time that I would have spent playing computer games looking at tutorials as well as researching tools and materials for my sewing and craft room. OneNote has been pretty neat in organizing my wishlist, with a number of websites offering repositories of free project plans. And of course, Pinterest rocks for finding new projects, tips and ideas.
I managed to snag the beginnings of a sewing kit (sewing box, pins, two scissors, measuring tapes, and seam rippers) to go with some thread and needles that I already had. I still have some way to go, but these items have opened up some options for sewing projects. I intend to make some tablet envelopes and some hanging organizers when I finally decide on material for the tasks. I will need to get some material though, as well as elastic, velcro, clips and several other materials. Eventually I hope to get a sewing machine, but I feel that I am lack some knowledge ahead of such a purchase and do not wish to waste money.
As for the craft-y stuff, I snagged some Bostick glue for half price at Woolworths on Monday. The two types of glue will make some difference, though it is basically all that I have for the craft kit apart from some recyclables. I have already been making some dividers for cans. They act as reasonable pen holder, but aren’t particularly attractive at present. As such, I will be decorating them as soon as I have some materials and appropriate glue for the task. Also, the little buckets that I made by cutting up plastic milk bottles came in handy when we were pulling apart and building our computers. Hubby seems to be a bit less annoyed with my increased interest in craft as a result, but is still mildly skeptical.

FILM & TV
We’ve started watching Grimm, which I am happy to say that hubby seems to enjoy. Grimm is an odd series but goes about telling the story of a detective that is monster hunter by genetics that awakens to find that he can see monsters, and that his family imparted stories of their own dealings with monsters via the Grimm stories. He befriends a palates, beer and music-loving werewolf that often helps him out in his investigations. He has to make sense of a tricky world where monsters are not always the bad guys, with the foreshadowing that a big bad is on the way. I like the show, though my hubby often pokes fun at the shoddy police procedure.
We finished the anime series Demon King Daimao, which was freaking hilarious. The world-building in the series is pretty neat, with a large matrix determining who does and does not get science, as well as the nature of that magic. The main character, a young man raised in a religious-based orphanage, finally gets into a prestigious magic academy, and is told by a chain-smoking destiny-determining Penguin construct (like the hat in Harry Potter), that he is the Demon King. This is a pretty big deal as it puts him in the eye of numerous assassins, at odds with the cute girl that he befriended on the hover train ride to the academy, and desired for the machinations of various figures. It is a funny if sometimes pervy story about a good-natured if somewhat mistreated hero, his friends, an auto-erotic necromancer witch, a pet dragon, dodgy programmers and a war-mongering government. This is for mature audiences due to the adult content.
We’ve started watching a neat supernatural comedy anime called Noragami. Noragami is the charming story of a Japanese War God named Yato who is trying to get followers and therefore fame. He now calls himself “Delivery God Yato” and sells his services to the few that don’t fall for the charms of more popular deities. After the first battle where we meet him, his Regalia (a spirit that can turn into weapons or other objects when called upon) decides to leave him. During a search for a cat, a teenage girl gets hit by a bus whilst trying to save a young man that she believed to be in danger. Because of the incident, it becomes apparent that she has a spirit leakage problem and she asks him for help in fixing it. He now has to find a replacement regalia to continue his work, but is constantly pestered by the girl who is becoming increasingly concerned by the regularly occurrence of her spirit falling out of her body which places her in genuine danger from evil spirits. It is a pretty cute show so far, with some decent world-building that makes use of some existing mythology.


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World of Keiko 12/07/2015

It has been several months since my last post. Things have been fairly quiet, as hubby and I are still adjusting to life in the the new place. In early November, the drought (more an indication of low rainfall due to winter) broke, the associated storms causing power outages and some flooding. The trees are now covered in new growth, which nectar-eaters and insects love. The heavy rainfall has also led to a bunch of new critters being more active, such as birds (many of which are nesting young now or trying to attract mates) and insects that have left a dormant state.
One such creature is the Yellow-Bellied Sunbird (also known as the Olive-Backed Sunbird) [check out this article as well: Yellow-bellied Sunbird @Thala Beach Nature Reserve], a typically diurnal nectar-eater living in Asia and certain parts of Australia. As hubby and I were going to bed last night, we saw one eating bugs outside one of our kitchen windows. According to a wiki article on the adorable little avians, the habit is associated with nursing babies. The article did not mention nocturnal habits nor did it mention that those suckers can hover for short periods of time. I find these little guys fascinating for obvious reasons. They have a small yet familiar chirp and are around the size of a finch, but hovers like a hummingbird. Their beaks are slightly curved and long, a lovely yellow belly and olive back. The little guy that we saw last night was lovely, one of several that like to hang out on the poinciana trees juxtaposing the main road in town and the river behind our house. I highly recommend that folks check out both links and also do a search for these pretty little birds.

English: Cinnyris jugularis - male Olive-backe...

English: Cinnyris jugularis – male Olive-backed Sunbird hovering while feeding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We also saw the little furry critter again about a month ago. It appears to have an elongated snout, making it resemble a bilby rather than a quoll (the species also has a slightly elongated snout, but I haven’t found any with a grey-tan fur), a possum (flatter face, move differently and much quicker) or a rabbit (a rabbit has a flatter face and moves differently). It is still a mystery, but I am sure that hubby and I will find more clues over time. As a sidenote, I haven’t not seen a cat since moving here.

READING & WRITING
Not much on the reading and writing front. I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but hope to next year. Congratulations to those that participated though, regardless of whether you hit your desired wordcount. You made a decision to write something, but don’t forget that the writing doesn’t finish there. If you didn’t finish, either make an effort to do so or use elements from whatever you have completed in other works. Feel free to let me know what you end up doing.

EDUCATION
Though I haven’t done a lot of study over the past few months, I did manage to finish three courses on EdX this past week. These are:

  • The Business of Mining by Curtain University: a four-module introductory course dealing with the lifespan, issues and economics of mining. It was a short yet solid overview of mining, that also covered to some degree how to read geo-models. Each module has numerous activities, videos and several assessment on a separate website that hooks into EdX once you get your last course badge. My only criticism is that there was effectively an unlimited number of shots at the assessments.  50% minimum for a pass. Rating: 7/10 (The material was solid, but I am slightly more interested in other subjects)
  • Pet Birds 101 by University of Tennesee:  an introductory course covering the physiology and care of birds that are commonly kept as birds. There are three major sections, each broken up into separately assessed multiple choice assessment that follow at least one video. The material is mature, though you will likely learn more about bird poop than you will likely want to. My only criticism is that you are given unlimited shots at the assessment questions which downplays the challenge. 70% minimum for a pass. Rating: 9/10 (I love birds and this gave me solid insight into various species. I highly recommend it for people that are fascinated by birds and/or biology)
  • Introduction to Linux by Linux Foundation: an introductory course dealing with the history of Linux, Linux distros, installation, some common command lines, etc… The material is broken up into 18 modules with a final for which your course score is derived. The videos are short, with most of the learning being from text that is infrequently confusing. This might require a few extra passes in preparation for the final exam. Given the steep learning curve to move to a Linux distro, I will likely give the O/S a pass. Rating: 6/10 (The material is complicated and periodically confusing. This might be a product of being a Windows fan though)

I am somewhat inclined to primarily enroll in self-paced courses from now on, with EdX being the clear winner over Coursera given that self-paced materials at Coursera have certain limitations, such as a lack of a free audit certificate for passing and limit on study time. The more time that I spend at EdX though, the more that I like the platform. There is a different focus, with EdX being non-profit yet still focused on providing high quality learning materials. Compare this with the profit and corporate focus of Coursera. This is not to say that Coursera is in any way evil, but sometimes money gets in the way of learning.

GAMING
I am now back to playing RIFT, but started playing ArcheAge yesterday. I tried to play ArcheAge back before I formatted my computer, resulting in some huge issues such as not being able to get past the character creation section. This time around, I still have some mild issues but I am loving what I’ve played of my Firran Vitalist so far. Folks that have played Guild Wars 2 will find some of the elements similar, but it feels a bit similar to how Black Desert Online appears to be but without the action combat. [BTW, I played GW2 for about a week in there, but got a bit bored after hubby stopped playing. It is quite lovely as well, but there are some limitations for f2p peeps that are annoying, such as being locked into a single server, which can only be changed to another using a premium token. The freedom to move around different servers is something that I love about RIFT actually.] ArcheAge has a more coherent and immersive storyline so far compared to RIFT, but I will see if that holds up over time as I progress through the game with Meownow. Yes, that is the name that I chose for my character – don’t judge me! 😀
Hubby also pre-ordered us both a Conqueror’s Pack for Black Desert Online which gets us into the upcoming beta test automatically. Folks interested in giving the game a run should apply for the beta, but realise that the western realise is buy-to-play like Guild Wars and The Secret World is. If you do end up playing, let me know about your own experiences in-game.
I might give Devilian a run after it goes out of beta, but also have other action RPGs such as Marvel Heroes and Diablo 3. I am hoping that Lost Ark has a western release as it looks gorgeous, but it isn’t guaranteed.

DIET & EXERCISE
Hubby and I got a LifeSpan Rise treadmill recently and I try to do around 10km on it each day, along with some situps and pushups. Adding situps has led to some abdominal soreness though, leading to a few days off while I recover enough to be able to roll over in bed without excessive pain. Oddly enough, no real issue doing the pushups though apart from odd pains in one of my wrists one of the days. I want to get fit and healthy, but have to be realistic in that it will take some time due to how much extra weight that I am carrying. I will have to be patient and stick with it, keeping an eye on my diet. I keep eating unhealthy food though, which doesn’t help. I am slowly getting there though.


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Pimp a Patreon: Godless in Dixie

Neil Carter Online: Facebook, Twitter, Patreon, Patheos

In this second installment of Pimp a Patreon, we are taking a look at Neil Carter’s Godless in Dixie patreon. As some of you are already aware, I am an atheist. Though I won’t be focusing much on this aspect of my life in this blog, I feel that it is important for atheists living in fundamentalist religious areas to get the support that they need. Whilst Neil’s patheos blog posts do a great job of offering some insight into the life of an Atheist living in Mississippi, there is still some ways in which he’d like to contribute further. I highly recommend that folks check out the Patreon and his other manifestations online to see if you’d like to contribute to the cause. Even if you don’t end up offering financial support, you’ll likely find his blog posts to be thought-provoking and relevant.


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Awesome Sauce: Regular Cars

As some of you are already aware, I have an interest in cars. This is a love that I share with my husband, though he is more versed in the mechanical side because I juggle other interests as well. In this installment, I would like to discuss another car-related youtube channel entitled “Regular Cars”.
Regular Cars is dedicated to car reviews that sprinkled with a refreshing amount of toilet humor from a chap that does his homework. The writers among you may also find the descriptive quite impressive as well because of the wordplay. The reviews are varied as well, ranging from the 2000 Toyota Celica GTS to the 2014 Honda Civic Si, the 2014  BMW S1000RR to the Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa. Yes, that does mean that there are reviews for motorcycles as well which totally works for me. These reviews are accompanied with a clever little song at the end.
So, if you are okay with some potty humor thrown into your car and motorcycle reviews, then you’ll take to this channel like a zombie to brains. You can also find Regular Cars on Twitter and Google+.


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Course Review: SW12X China

Provider: Harvard @EdX [course page]
Lecturers: Peter K. Bol and William C. Kirby + others
Subject: Humanities / History + Sociology + Philosophy
Delivery: self-paced asynchronous study
Recommended Load: 3 hrs/week over 8 weeks
Completion Date: 06/23/2014

An iron sword and two bronze swords from the C...

An iron sword and two bronze swords from the Chinese Warring States Period (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Description: Peter and Bill lead a team of experts teach us history, sociology and philosophy of China focused on the periods leading up to and including the Warring States era.

Strengths: Many of us have seen news stories and articles on modern China but have little to no knowledge of the issues and events that have shaped the region. One of the ongoing problems that I’ve found with learning more about China is the issue with language. The different script poses a bit of a dilemma for me, but this course introduced and encouraged the learning of the spoken and written language through a series of activities and quizzes. This made the language accessible and has led to me enrolling in a course in Basic Chinese over at the ALISON website.
The course goes from the four sections on time, space, identity and geography in the first week to three weeks on history, finishing with two weeks on Chinese Philosophy. The experts offer insight into the society of Ancient China in the various eras by way of texts and artifacts such as Oracle Bones and Bronze vessels. Students are encouraged to watch 3-D models of the Bronzes in particular, before being asked to offer some observations on their various traits, thus giving students a more “hands-on” approach to the coursework.
As mentioned before, the course spends the last two weeks on Philosophy. Given the popularity of Confucius, the first of these is focused on learning about his ideas and background before moving on to his successors. The last of these weeks discusses other philosophers during the Hundred Schools of Thought period during the Warring States era. It was quite interesting seeing what other thinkers considered the best way to deal with that time of chaos, especially compared to some of the material covered in the introductory course on Philosophy that I studied earlier this year.

Weaknesses: It actually requires some consideration of philosophical thought and artifacts, as well as the inclination to learn characters from a foreign script. This takes work and dedication, something that may not appeal to folks lacking curiosity about other cultures.

Conclusion: I got a heck of a lot out of this course. Having grown up watching lots of kung-fu movies and more recently enjoying the Dynasty Warriors series based off of the Three Kingdoms era, I found myself getting excited when I saw this first part of a six-course series being listed as self-paced at EdX. It takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the topic, allowing students a more expanded understanding of the region during the eras covered.
Given my own love of the course I have now made room in my schedule in order to fre up room for future instalments in the series and have also enrolled in a basic Chinese course over at ALISON. This course has renewed my interest in Asian Studies. In any case, I recommend this course with an interest in learning about other regions and a passion for history.
As a final note, this self-paced course also offers certificates every 4 months to students have have received a passing score of 75%.